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Syria: ancient civilizations of the Middle East

Syria (Al-Jumūhrīyā al-‘Arabīya as-Sūrīyā) is a presidential republic in the Middle East, which is bordered to the north by Turkey, to the east and south-east by Iraq, to the south with Jordan, to the south-west with Lebanon and Israel, and to the west is washed by the Mediterranean Sea.

The most important city is the capital Damascus, other cities are Aleppo, Homs, Hama and Latakia. Syria territory is formed for the most part by an arid plateau that extends towards the east, stopped in the northeast from the fertile region of Al-Jazira (Mesopotamia), a vast cultivated plains where flows the Euphrates river, while to the south-east lies the vast Syriac desert.

To the west the coastline is occupied by a narrow flat area and by the mountains of Jabal an Nusayriyah that run parallel to the coast until the border with Lebanon, here is the tectonic depression of Al Ghab, a fertile irrigated area crossed by the Oronte river. The border with Lebanon is marked by Anti-Lebanon mountains, where is the highest peak in the country, Mount Hermon (Jabal ash Shaykh, 2,814 meters) here in south-west lies the Hawran (Hauran ) region, an important agricultural area and on the border with Israel is the hilly region of the Golan Heights.

The main rivers of the country are the Euphrates, which flows in the north-east of the country for nearly 700 km, the Orontes which crosses the western part of the country from north to south touching the towns of Homs and Hama, and the Tigris, marking, at the north-east, for a short stretch, the border with Turkey.

The economy of Syria is based on agriculture (wheat, barley, vegetables, tobacco, potatoes, grapes, olives, cotton, fruits, citrus fruits), breeding (sheep, goat, cattle), the craft is important (silk fabrics, carpets, items in brass, copper, silver). Among the resources of the subsoil are petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, salt, chromium, manganese, iron and asbestos. The industry is based on processing of local agricultural products and textiles. A major source of wealth is given by tourism.

  • Area: 185,180 sqkm. (Arable 2%, Pastures 45%, Forests and Woodlands 3%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 50%)
  • Population: 19,405,000 (2007 data) (Arabs 90%, Kurds, Armenians, Turks)
  • State Capital: Damascus.
  • Languages: The official language is Arabic.
  • Religion: Muslim 90% (Sunni 74%, Alawis, Druze), Christian 10% (Orthodox 5%, Catholic 2%).
  • Currency: Syrian pound (SYP)
  • Time: UTC +2 hours (Summer UTC +3 hours).

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